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The "Stalker Candidate"...

November 16, 2008
by Tim Tolan
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Main Entry: Stalk
Function: verb
intransitive verb 1 : to pursue quarry or prey stealthily 2 : to walk stiffly or haughtily transitive verb 1 : to pursue by stalking 2 : to go through (an area) in search of prey or quarry <stalk the woods for deer> 3 : to pursue obsessively and to the point of harassment

OK - I'm the first to admit this is a bit weird.

We are conducting several key IT searches and it looks as if this economy is bringing out the worst in some of us:-(

When a candidate goes thru the interview process several things are apparent to all parties involved. There is of course the initial screening - followed by an in depth interview - followed by a series of other engaging activities in the search process. We speak to and communicate with hundreds of candidates each month. We use a search process that is designed to screen and find the best person for a search in the least amount of time. Many candidates stand out based on their stellar resume and career accomplishments while some never seem to rise above the noise.

Then there is the exception to both of the above scenarios. It's what I refer to as the "stalker candidate".

It's the candidate that calls you every single day (ok maybe every other day) while you are conducting a search assignment (for weeks). C'mon. Things don't change dramatically (by the minute) in a search. Can you say desperation? I am amazed at the "reasons" a stalker gives to justify every single "touch point". It's unreal.

I've heard it all. It could be " I have 2-3 offers on the table" or "I am leaving town tomorrow and just wanted to "check- in" or worse " I just wanted to call you today to check on the status of my candidacy". “I need a status update”. What? Again? I thought we already covered that on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday! Let's face it - to day is Thursday and guess what? Nothing has changed today either!!!

Pleeeeeease. Some candidates just don’t get it and for some unknown reason they feel like if they call EVERY SINGLE day their odds of being selected will somehow increase? I want to help each candidate as much as I can. And I do feel sorry for the stalker candidate when I encounter them.

Trust me – calling (I mean stalking) a recruiter every single day does not help your odds to land your dream job.
Thank God for caller ID!


Absolutely. The profile of the "Stalker Candidate" is extremely annoying and it's hard to even think about them making it to 1st base in the search — placing them in a senior executive role is something I don't even want to think about! If they are that "needy"- one can only imagine what it must be like to work with them or manage them on a daily basis. The leadership point you make is right on as the "stalker" would be hard pressed to lead. As I've said over and over - reputation is everything in the search business. Place a stalker with a client company - and your reputation will tank!

Tim. Let's be honest. In addition to being annoying, doesn't this give you LESS confidence in the candidate's ability to handle things with grace, and thus LESS interest in matching them with a high-profile position? Tell me if I'm wrong, but every time you try and match a candiate and position, you put YOUR reputation on the line. Thoughts?

That phenomenon is not unknown to most of us who have had to fill positions, whether we be recruiters or employers.
I suspect that the thought process is driven by some of the well-meaning advice I've seen directed at job seekers.
You know, like "You've got to make your job search your full-time job", and "Make sure the person that's hiring knows HOW MUCH you want to work for them."
As an employer, I don't mind the occasional brief email from a candidate that's still under consideration, just as a "keep-alive ping". "I hope I'm not being a pest, but we haven't talked in a couple of weeks and I just wanted to let you know that I'm still interested in that position. Please let me know if there's anything else that you need from me."
Anything more frequent or needy than that is likely to deflate the candidates stock exponentially.

I agree Mark. There is a major difference between a "keep-alive ping" and calling almost every day. I think part of it is based on your comment of candidates getting advice from a recruiter or a friend to make sure the employer is able to gauge their interest level. I also think people either become desperate for financial reasons or they somehow feel that they had a strong "connection" with the person that interviewed them and it's somehow "ok" to keep calling them. In either case too much "stalking" is a non-starter.